A library or library is a service organization that provides its users media. This media may contain information (such as non-fiction ) or entertainment act ( such as music CDs).

Access to and use on site are mostly free and free borrowing possible for a small annual fee. Most libraries are funded with tax money, but also ecclesiastical, public and private organizations and companies have libraries.

Central service of libraries is the lending of media. Some libraries also provide support to the publication of his own texts or teaching materials (for example as a publisher of a university or through provision of infrastructure for e -learning), the teaching of information literacy (mostly in academic libraries ) or the promotion of reading ( mostly at public libraries ) to. The main operations are the acquisition and discarding of media and the cataloging of items, the activities in the Library Magazine and the circulation desk.

In addition to print media ( such as books and magazines) now offer more and more libraries and digital media ( such as e -books, DVDs or electronic magazines) and have accessible in the Internet digital libraries.

Word origin and definition

The word " library " is taken from the Greek. Even in ancient times called the word βιβλιοθήκη ( Libraries ) a " book box " ( as a container for papyri ) or a " collection of books ". " Library " is an introduced by Johann Amos Comenius 1658 loan translation from Dutch.

Within the library science literature, the term has been defined " library " often and in different ways. A frequently quoted definition is from Gisela Ewert and Walther Umstätter: " The library is an institution that collects published under archival, economic and synoptic aspects of information for the user, arranges and makes it available. "

Library types

The classification of libraries can be evaluated by a variety of criteria. The most common division is in the Public Libraries ( ÖB ) for the general public and academic libraries (WB), which are also open to the public, but specifically geared to the needs of faculty and students though.

More Krtierien to distinguish between libraries are, for example, the size of the library ( we speak about from one-man - libraries) or the respective collection center of gravity ( such as music libraries). Other criteria are the source of support (eg company libraries, libraries pin ) and the function which belongs to a library (such as national libraries, public libraries ).


Today, almost all libraries are freely accessible, exceptions can this private libraries of companies, but also special libraries of other institutions be. Must be paid only from the first borrowing a medium, usually flat, low annual fees. Also, the user must leave exhibit a library card of the library before the first borrowing almost always.

The media library can be located wholly or partly in magazines, which may be entered only by the library staff (magazine book). Such media must be ordered to view and to borrow and excavated by the staff. In addition to the magazine stock, there are almost always one accessible to the user area can be used and seen in the media ( open access ). Some of these free-standing stocks is often used (eg reference books or newspapers ) and is therefore not available for loan, but only intended for short local use ( reference collection ). For not entlehnbaren inventory includes also particularly old and valuable media. Not in the respective existing media library can be proposed for the purchase or ordered through interlibrary loan from other libraries. The today most important research tool are freely accessible via the Internet on-line catalogs ( OPACs ) of the libraries. In these catalogs all media are listed together with their location in the library and locate the user, using keywords. Only rarely are in use older forms such as the catalog card catalog.

The users are generally reading rooms available, often computer workstations with Internet access or even their own cabins. Furthermore, there are almost always copiers and book scanners, in public libraries and playback devices for music CDs and DVDs.

In general, media have a library own number ( signature), from which the location of the specimen can be easily found. The user-accessible stocks are usually placed in a certain order.


Revenue, expenditure and funding bodies

Libraries spend a multiple of what they can earn ( as a copier ) and smaller services through user charges, late fees, the provision of technical infrastructure. Among the issues of personnel expenses is by far the largest item, followed by the acquisition of new media. Libraries are funded by the funding bodies. The most important source of support is the public sector, the federal, state as well as municipalities fund libraries. These carriers are as public law foundations and public corporations. An important library support in the German-speaking countries is also the church, others are: associations, companies, foundations and civil law individuals.


  • Acquisition and Deakzession
  • Cataloging
  • Loan

One of the key operations of a library include the acquisition and separation of media, the cataloging of items and the loan of media. Then there is the retro-digitization of existing media and the promotion of literacy and information literacy.

The acquisition is the purchase of new media. The German libraries have issued 2012, about 399 million euros for the acquisition. In smaller libraries, the acquisition is often performed by a single librarian or only incidentally co-supervised, in larger, however, there is usually a separate acquisition department. After the acquisition of the new additions are developed, ie entered into a searchable library catalog. The opposite process of acquisition, are discarded in the above liquid media, is the Deakzession. Acquisition and Deakzession together sometimes referred to as collection development, inventory management, and portfolio development. As part of the acquisition of the library collection is enlarged not only through acquisitions but also through legal deposit, donation, exchange and licensing. In order to make rare books once per state available, libraries are working together in acquisition collaborations.

Structure and process organization

Except for the smallest libraries have - like other businesses too - a structural organization, which can be illustrated in an organizational chart. Although this structure is no longer the only today, yet many libraries are divided below the library management broadly into three main traditional divisions:

There are also a cross-cutting departments such as the IT department and the library management directly subordinate staff positions. Staff positions can be temporarily set up (about to carry out an exhibition or introduction of new software ) or permanently exist (such as for public relations or provenance research ). Users usually occur only with the use of department in direct contact. In addition to the so-called " functional " Outline a " professional " subdivision is possible, which is not designed to satisfy what function a department, but because what topics a busy department. So often there are separate departments about humanities or scientific literature, which covers all the operations ( acquisitions, cataloging ) even within these areas.

The sequence organization of an operation determines the order of the individual steps in libraries one speaks also of so-called business. A frequently -to-find process is the migration of the new media by the following steps (from top to bottom):

  • Acquisition ( with the steps to select, order, delivery control, billing and inventory )
  • Cataloging ( with the steps descriptive cataloging and subject cataloging )
  • Technical editing ( with the binding steps, care work and labeling )
  • List


In Germany, the legislation is exercised by the federal government and the states. For the case-law of the Länder are responsible in the first place, only the highest courts are federal institutions. In Austria and Germany the municipalities are not legally obliged to maintain a library in Finland, Denmark and the UK does. In Germany, the public libraries are usually part of the city administration, since the 1980s, come sporadically but also the legal forms self- operating, non-profit GmbH and GmbH ago. These are governed by private law, but financed by the municipalities. In contrast to Germany and Austria there is in the U.S. Library Assistance Act, the Library Services and Construction Act.


The totality of all libraries is the library system. The working in a library, people are librarians and specialist in media and information services and the scientific discipline for the organization and function of libraries and other information institutions. The corresponding training course is the library science. The course of business in a library called library management and optimizing activities both internally and externally are called "Library management ".

In 2007, there were according to the German Library Statistics in Germany 8,694 public libraries with a total of 10,365 locations. In the same period there were 243 academic libraries, who held 791 locations.


In ancient times, the Egyptians already had collections of books, of which we are aware of the datable to 1866 BC papyrus scrolls. At the time of freedom sporadic traces can be found among the Greeks on private libraries, on the first public book collection that was created by Pisistratus at Athens, prevail doubt. After the downfall of freedom, the Greek culture was transferred to other countries, as a consequence, libraries were founded, the largest was probably donated by the Ptolemies Alexandrian library. As part of the migration of peoples, many of the old libraries were destroyed, often over thousands of accumulated knowledge has been destroyed forever. In the Middle Ages mostly monks took care of the preservation of the ancient writings.

In the course of humanism, the libraries experienced a resurgence. With the invention of the printing press now on the collection of a library with less cost and difficulty was linked. The first libraries that made their reading rooms accessible to the public, were the beginning of the 17th century, the Bodleian Library in Oxford and the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. During the Thirty Years' War, many collections were looted or destroyed. The same thing happened during the French Revolution. With the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte most looted library materials but were brought back to its original location.

At the beginning of the 19th century more and more public libraries. The first public library was founded in Germany in 1828 by Karl Benjamin Preusker as patriotic citizens Library in Grand grove. In 1900, the initial establishment of the Association of German Librarians in the same year was the first German Library Conference in Marburg. On October 3, 1912, the German library was founded in Leipzig.

After the founding of the GDR, the Western powers no longer left out that the German Library in Leipzig collects the entire German written work for political reasons. Therefore, the German Library in Frankfurt was founded in 1949 on the Main. After the reunification of both merged together with the German Music Archive in Berlin for the German National Library (DNB ).

Pictures of Library